Laird Thermal Systems Launches Alternative Refrigerant-Based Cooling Systems Initiative

The effort aims to combat global warming and address regulatory changes in the cooling industry.

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DURHAM, N.C. — Laird Thermal Systems has launched an initiative to introduce the use of alternative refrigerants in refrigeration-based cooling systems to address global warming and changes in regulatory requirements in the cooling industry. Many years ago, the industry moved away from using flammable, environmentally friendly refrigerants such as R-290 propane in favor of higher performing but ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbon-based refrigerants. This new development initiative will focus on maximizing operational performance, cooling capacity and the safe use of alternative refrigerants to significantly reduce the Global Warming Potential (GWP) associated with these systems.

Alternative refrigerants have received significant consideration for use as future alternatives due to their performance and environmentally friendly characteristics. These characteristics include zero Ozone Depleting Potential (ODP) and near zero GWP. However, these benefits come at the cost of some of these refrigerants being classified as flammable. Due to increasing concerns of global warming and the corresponding increase in regulatory requirement changes, demands for understanding and developing eco-friendly and safe systems using flammable refrigerants continue to rise.

Most refrigerants used today have an ODP of 0 and a GWP ranging from ~500 to ~4000. As a result, the scientists at Laird Thermal Systems undertook an initiative to develop a new approach to using R-290 refrigerant, which has an ODP of 0 and GWP of 3.

“The use of high GWP synthetic refrigerants during the past decades has had significant effects on global warming, which is why we are moving towards using environmentally friendly refrigerants that still safely deliver the desired cooling performance,” says Dr. Sang Muk Kwark, Staff Scientist at Laird Thermal Systems.

Dr. Kwark will be presenting a paper at the 38th Annual SEMI-THERM Symposium on Wednesday, March 23 entitled Evaluation of Cooling Capacity of Refrigeration System with Limited Charge of R-290. Access information at www.lairdthermal.com on alternative refrigerant cooling systems at SEMI-THERM.

“The greatest impact to the cooling capacity in alternative-based cooling systems is the limited amount of flammable refrigerant that is allowed to be shipped within a single system,” says Greg Ducharme, Liquid Cooling Systems Product Director at Laird Thermal Systems. “Through design optimization, the amount of R-290 contained in these systems is small enough to meet international air shipment regulations and still provide the cooling capacity of a system with six times the refrigerant charge.”

The company plans to introduce the alternative-refrigerant technology in future platform products.

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